Sunday, August 29, 2010

Connecting by Disconnecting on the Road

Last winter, I spent a lot more time in the gym because of the copious amounts of snow and ice on the road.

Normally, I cherish a run in the snow: the powdery quiet, my feet making tracks, the solitude as most people peered out of their windows, wrapped in warmth as I pushed through the icy wind.  Mine would be the only footprints I'd see, especially if I started early.  It was my time to be alone with the entire world.  It was beautiful.

However, I turned to the gym when that bucolic scene turned into two feet of snow piled on roadsides, sidewalks unshoveled and ice covered every conceivable surface. I took my earphones with me and watched way too much "Say Yes to the Dress" and "What Not to Wear."  I even met the Kardashians and, by the time spring rolled around, could tell Kourtney from Khloe.  (Hey, sometimes "Law & Order" just can't be found.)

As the weather warmed, we shot from freezing to blisteringly hot.  Many days I found the heat and humidity simply too much even in the early morning hours.  Other days I convinced myself that it was simply too hot and humid in those early morning hours because I secretly wanted to sleep in.  Additionally, the area I usually run was under heavy construction: sidewalks were closed so pedestrians were diverted to areas with potholes, backhoes and inattentive drivers in unfamiliar terrain.  In short: it was dangerous.

And yet — some days I just have to hit the road.

On those days, I remember why I love to run: it's a chance to be totally free for an hour.  Everyone knows my route, from Police and Fire to Public Works and Utilities, so I can be found in case of a true emergency (as opposed to simple urgency).  (No, I am not that important, but sometimes my work is.)

This hour of solitude allows me to focus further than an arm's length away and watch the squirrels and butterflies — even catch the bright yellow birds that dart among the flowers in the summer.  I hear the sounds of the community: construction, cicadas, fellow athletes.

As I run, I tell myself stories of my own brilliance, courage and wit (because everything is possible when it happens in my brain).  I sometimes think of nothing, letting my brain process my footfall into the rhythm of a poem or search for a lead for that story that has stumped me for days.

Disconnection should not be among people, but regarding machines.  Tuning into "Cake Boss" can clog my brain from the really important process of thinking and creating.  Don't get me wrong, I have been known to zone with "Bridezilla" (much to the shock and dismay of my husband, who just glances at me from time to time, wondering what happened to his reasonable wife).

More importantly, we need to disconnect from the tidal wave of intel relentlessly pouring into our brains via phone, computer, BlackBerry or iPod.

We all need the humbling realization that a missed phone call is not a tragedy, an e-mail will remain in the inbox until we address it (and, if we're lucky, will have been addressed by someone else in the meantime).  How I am important to the important people in my life does not depend on the computer that helped me compose this essay — but is a tool that helps us connect when we can.  Only when we disconnect can we truly connect in a way that's meaningful.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bruno, Rico or Jacques? You Decide!

Three names are in the running for this little cutie:





Help name this hedgehog: leave your vote in the comment section.  Vote early, vote often!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


When was the last time you voted?

If you have to think back, check your calendar and scratch your head, shame on you.

Right now, you should be aware when your next election is and at least conversationally aware of what is one the ballot.  By the time that election rolls around, you should have enough information from the non-partisan League of Women Voters to make an informed decision and be ready to step into the polling booth.

If you are not, maybe you should live someplace where there are no elections, where you do not choose your representatives, where you have no choice as to what is in your state or nation's constitution.

If you think elections are unimportant or you can't be bothered, perhaps you can trade places with the people who will walk miles to their polling location in the pre-dawn hours so they can cast their ballots.

If you think your vote doesn't count, think about the 2000 presidential election, where the race was so close people were examining ballots with magnifying glasses.

And if you truly think a democratic republic can take care of itself without your help, maybe you can tell that to the women of the Lorton Reformatory, who were arrested for protesting in front of the White House in 1917 and tortured in prison for months — all because they were wacky enough to think that maybe women deserved to be able to vote in all states, not just Wyoming.

In the United States, we underestimate our importance in the process.  We surrender our power to people who live their careers finding ways to funnel obscene amounts of money to their states to pacify us into re-electing them and who write laws not even they can read.

Maybe if we were less passive, if we expected nothing short of fair representation from our elected officials and held them to that standard, then we could get the government we want, rather than settle for the government we deserve.

Maybe casting a ballot is a good first step to building the City on a Hill our founding leaders envisioned.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In Honor of My Condo, Now For Sale

Home is so Sad   

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left, 
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go 
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft 
Of anyone to please, it withers so, 
Having no heart to put aside the theft  

And turn again to what it started as, 
A joyous shot at how things ought to be, 
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:  
Look at the pictures and the cutlery. 
The music in the piano stool. That vase.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Mila's Daydreams, in Color

Valerie has introduced me to a new, very adorable blog: Mila's Daydreams.

In case you don't have the opportunity to go straight to the website, please allow me to show you here why you must frequent this site in the near future.
'Nuff said.

That website again: Mila's Daydreams.

And you're welcome.